Barlow is very limited in what he has to offer, but what he can do is handle the basketball without making mistakes and play pretty good on-ball defense against guards that aren't elite athletes. Barlow's game is all about not making mistakes. He rarely hurts the Bulldogs with his play, which is why, despite his skill level, he still sees 31 minutes per game. This match-up is actually an important one for Xavier, because this is a position where they should have an advantage but it's far from guaranteed depending on which Dee Davis shows up. Last time they played, Davis outscored Barlow 12-5, and helped the Musketeers' offense by nailing 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. That came in the midst of a seven or eight game stretch where Davis was really playing well, and the Musketeers' offense was at its best. Ever since the win over Georgetown, Davis has offered little in the way of offensive production, and even struggled for a few games with turnovers and bad decisions. He seemed to be getting back on track against Providence, finishing with four assists off of some nice drives and only one turnover, but he still only had four points. This is a good match-up for Davis, and it could be the game that gets him going again on offense. Defensively, Davis locked Kellen Dunham up last game, so he's very important to Xavier's game-plan on the defensive end in this one too.
Slight Edge Xavier
Semaj Christon So (6-3, 190) vs Kellen Dunham So (6-6, 185)
Defenses in the Big East have been able to make it tougher on Dunham when it comes to getting good looks. The combination of not having much offensive firepower around him in his supporting cast and his lack of athleticism has allowed teams to really focus on chasing him around the perimeter. He's still hit double-digits in all but one Big East contest (Seton Hall, a 64-57 Butler win), and he's still shooting 37.7 percent from 3-point range. Between the tandem of Davis and Christon, the Musketeers have the personnel and the system in place to hold Dunham in check again. If they can keep him to 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting, or anything close to that, they should be in good shape. Christon scored 20 points (7-of-14 FG) and dished out eight assists with no turnovers in the last meeting between these teams, and completely dominated the first half. The Bulldogs just really don't have anyone with the length or athleticism to guard him. If he's as aggressive as he was last time in taking the ball to the basket, he should have another big scoring night.
Moderate Edge Xavier
Justin Martin Jr (6-6, 205) vs Khyle Marshall Sr (6-6, 216)
Marshall scored 14 points (6-of-14 FG) in the last meeting between these teams, and he's scored in double-figures in every game since, including a couple of 18-point efforts against Georgetown and Marquette. He's coming off his worst game in that stretch, a 10-point effort on 3-of-9 shooting in the loss to Georgetown. Last game, Marshall was able to hurt Xavier some with his offense, but he had no impact on the game with his rebounding which is a big key. He only finished with two boards in the game, and he averages five. Martin was very solid in the last meeting with 13 points and seven boards. In conference play, Martin is averaging 14.2 points per game and has been one of the team's most consistent players. He responded from his poor performance against Seton Hall with back-to-back 13-point efforts at Villanova and against Providence.
Slight Edge Butler
Isaiah Philmore Sr (6-8, 237) vs Kameron Woods Jr (6-9, 200)
Woods was decent in the last match-up, eight points and seven boards, but four of those points came off of long jumpers that Xavier wanted him to shoot, and he also had four turnovers. For Butler to win, Woods has to give them an advantage. He's a great rebounder, but hasn't put it together on the offensive end yet. In the last two games against Marquette and Georgetown he combined for eight points on 2-of-9 shooting. Philmore canceled out Woods' output last game by basically matching him with nine points and six boards. One area where Philmore has been pretty consistent is his rebounding effort. He's hauled in 17 rebounds over the last two games, which is the same type of effort Xavier needs out of him in this one. If they can keep Marshall and Woods off of the glass the same way they were able to last time, that will be a huge advantage.
Matt Stainbrook Jr (6-10, 263) vs Andrew Chrabascz Fr (6-7, 225)
Chrabascz unsurprisingly stole away Fromm's starting spot in the lineup and is now playing nearly 30 minutes a game over the last three contests. During that stretch he scored in double-figures in all three games, including a career-high 24 points in the last game against Georgetown on 9-of-13 from the field, including a three. He's undersized, but he's strong and physical underneath, plus he has a solid skill level and good touch. All that being said, Stainbrook has to dominate this match-up, as Butler has nobody that can handle him physically. He absolutely wore Fromm down in the last meeting, and dominated the second half to finish with 17 points (7-of-12 FG), seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Chrabascz should be able to give him good resistance with his strength early on, but Stainbrook typically struggles more with length than he does strength so expect him to get his points as the game continues.
Significant Edge Xavier
Xavier Bench vs Butler Bench
The Butler bench actually lost some firepower by pulling Chrabascz into the starting lineup. Now, the only real offensive threat they have to bring in the game s Elijah Brown, a 6-4 freshman guard who came in to score 10 points and hit two big threes at the Cintas Center. The Musketeers will have to keep an eye on him when he enters the game, as he's an athletic shooter that thrives off of confidence. Fromm is playing less and less as the season progresses, he only saw nine minutes against Marquette and 13 against Georgetown over the last two games, scoring just two points in each. Xavier is glad to have Jalen Reynolds back in the mix, which should give them even more of an advantage inside. Despite his suspension, he is clearly making strides and will likely continue to earn more minutes. Myles Davis could also be a factor as he's been showing signs of breaking out of his freshman slump. He had a really nice bank-floater and a good and-one take against Providence. James Farr has not been playing as much, he saw just nine minutes against Villanova and five against Providence, but he could play a bigger role in this one as the match-up works a little better for him.
Slight Edge Xavier
Xavier has the benefit of knowing what going into Hinkle and playing Butler there is all about, so they won't get caught up in the Bulldogs' poor record and overlook an always difficult opponent. This has become a rivalry game of sorts for these two schools, and nothing ever comes easy in this series, especially on the road. That being said, this is also a favorable match-up for the Musketeers. Butler just doesn't have an answer for Christon or Stainbrook as they showed in the first meeting, and as long as Xavier locks down on the defensive end the way they did against Providence on Saturday then those two should be able to carry them to a necessary victory. A loss in this one, though certainly possible, would be a damaging blow at this point.
Score Prediction: Xavier 66 Butler 62